Commissions to the Colonels of the Sixteen Additional Continental Regiments
[Morristown, 11 January 1777]
Whereas the honorable Continental Congress by a resolve of the 27th Ulto have appointed Sixteen Battalions more to be raised in addition to eighty eight voted in september last and have authorized me to nominate & Commission the Officers for the same—Know You that I reposing the utmost confidence in your Abilities and Attachments to The United States of America, by virtue of the Power aforesaid do constitute and appoint you a Colonel of one of the said Battalions giving and granting you Authority, by & with the advice of your other Field Officers to appoint all Officers under the rank of Field Officers necessary for the same—nevertheless reserving to myself the right of ratifying or rejecting such appointments, and as many good Officers may have been overlook’t in the new Appointments by the Committes of the several States assignd for the discharge of that business, it is my wish that you give a preference to such of them as you know to be deserving of notice. I do hereby require and enjoin you forthwith to take measures for recruiting such Battalions in the most expeditious manner, to serve for the term of three Years or during the continuance of the War with Great Britain, and upon such pay bounties & allowances as have been resolved on by Congress for the Eighty Eight Battalions aforsaid. Given at Head Quarters at Morris Town this eleventh day of January One Thousand seven hundred and seventy Seven.
DfS, addressed to Col. Nathaniel Gist, in William Palfey’s writing, DLC:GW; DS, sent to Col. Henry Sherburne, in John Fitzgerald’s writing, RNHi; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
The Continental Congress on 27 Dec. 1776 resolved to raise sixteen additional regiments to supplement the eighty-eight regiments that it had ordered to be raised for the duration of the war on 16 Sept. 1776 (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 6:1040, 1043–46, and Hancock to GW, 24 Sept. 1776, and note 1). Although Congress vested GW with “full, ample, and complete powers to raise and collect together” the regiments from any or all of the states in the “most speedy and effectual manner,” GW initially planned to raise only fourteen of the sixteen regiments. He offered colonel’s commissions to seven New Englanders, Samuel Blachley Webb of Connecticut, Alexander Scammell of New Hampshire, Ezekiel Cornell and Henry Sherburne of Rhode Island, and Henry Jackson, David Henley, and William Raymond Lee of Massachusetts (see GW to Sherburne, Webb, Henley, Cornell, and Scammell, and GW to Jackson, both 12 Jan. 1777). Scammell and Cornell declined to serve in the Continental army and GW made no further attempts to raise those regiments, and several of Sherburne’s companies remained incomplete even though he recruited in Connecticut as well as Rhode Island. GW sent commissions to five men from the middle states. David Forman and Oliver Spencer were appointed colonels of the regiments to be raised in New Jersey, and Thomas Hartley and John Patton were appointed to command the Pennsylvania regiments (see GW to Patton, 11 Jan., and GW to Hartley, 12 Jan. 1777). William Malcom was named colonel of the regiment from New York, which was raised partly in New York and partly in Pennsylvania, with the help of Brig. Gen. George Clinton (see GW to Clinton, 19 Jan. 1777). Delaware and Maryland were omitted from GW’s list of states to recruit men, as were Georgia and the Carolinas, and in fact GW wanted to raise only two regiments in the southern department, both in Virginia. William Grayson and Nathaniel Gist were appointed colonels of the Virginia regiments (see GW to Grayson, 11 Jan., and GW’s orders to Gist, 13 Jan. 1777), but in March GW appointed Charles Mynn Thruston to the command of a third Virginia regiment (see Thruston to GW, 14 Mar. 1777). Later in the spring, North Carolina offered to raise the sixteenth regiment under the command of Abraham Sheppard, and on 17 June 1777 the Continental Congress resolved to accept the offer (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 8:475). For the recruiting instructions that GW enclosed in each of the letters to the various colonels, see GW’s Circular Recruiting Instructions to the Colonels of the Sixteen Additional Continental Regiments, 12–27 Jan. 1777.